Effective passing is the key to moving the ball into position to take high-percentage shots. Players pass the ball to maintain possession and create scoring opportunities. Passes should usually be short and crisp, and they should arrive above the waist and within easy reach of the receiver. Long or slow passes are likely to be stolen, and players should avoid throwing too hard or using passes that are difficult to control. Additionally, if possible, passes should be thrown to the receiver’s side that is farthest from the defender.
We’ll take a closer look at three types of passes: chest pass, bounce pass, and overhead pass.
The chest pass is made when the ball is thrown with two hands from the passer’s chest area to the receiver’s chest area. Chest passes are used often because they can be made quickly and accurately from most positions on the floor.
To execute the chest pass, the player should begin in the ready position and step toward the target, extending the legs, the back, and the arms, to initiate the pass. The pass should be started with the elbows in, and then the wrists and fingers should be forced through the ball, releasing it off the first and second fingers of both hands to give the ball backspin and direction. To get good backspin on the ball, the player should follow through with the fingers pointed at the target, palms facing out, and with the thumb of both hands pointed down.
It is sometimes easier for a passer to get the ball to a teammate by bouncing the ball once on the court before it reaches the receiver. For example, if a defender is guarding a player with both hands overhead, this may prevent a pass being made through the air to a teammate. Players should use bounce passes when they are closely guarded and do not have the space to extend their arms for a chest pass.
To execute the bounce pass, the player should first assume the ready position, with the head up and the ball held in both hands near one hip to protect the ball from the defender. The player should step toward the target and snap the thumbs down and together on the release to impart backspin on the ball, which will slow the pass down a little as it hits the floor. The player should make the pass at waist level and aim to bounce the ball on the court about two-thirds of the way between herself and the receiver so that the receiver is able to catch it at waist level.
An overhead pass is used when a player is closely guarded and is forced to pass over a defender—for example, when making an outlet pass to start a fast break or a lob pass to a player cutting backdoor to the basket. The overhead pass is also an option for feeding the low post.
To execute the overhead pass, the player should start in the ready position, holding the ball above the forehead with the elbows in and flexed at about 90 degrees. The player should be careful not to bring the ball back behind the head, because from this position, it takes longer to make the pass, and it is easier for a defender to come in from behind and make a steal. The player then steps in the direction of the target and extends the legs and back, quickly passing the ball by extending the arms, flexing the wrists and fingers, and releasing the ball off the first and second fingers of both hands. The player follows through with the fingers pointing at the target and the palms facing down.
This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Basketball, Fourth Edition.